HackerNews Readings
40,000 HackerNews book recommendations identified using NLP and deep learning

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gostsamoonJune 14, 2021

Dune (first book only), The Fountains of Paradise by Arthur Clark, Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in a Strange Land), Uplift Series by David Brim, The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanly Robinson, Ann Leckies books are really interesting new sf.

flyingfencesonJuly 28, 2021

> Heinlein wrote a book in favor of polyamory ("Stranger in a Strange Land")

See also: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress

GMWANGonAug 6, 2021

I have a hard time persuading myself to like money, it's just not intuitive to me. Fame freaks me out too. I always meant to read Strangers in a Strange Land. Let's see!

bawolffonJuly 29, 2021

Stranger in a strange land is socially conservative?? (and i don't just mean the pro-poly parts - that book was generally very influential to the hippie movement)

Like there's a lot i disagree with about the views expressed in his novels, but social conservatism is not something i would accuse him of.

YuriNiyazovonJune 14, 2021

"Stranger in a strange land" and "Starship Troopers" by Heinlein.

CalChrisonMay 29, 2021

My goodness, the name of the leading character in "Stranger in a Strange Land" is as familiar to millions of literate persons as Oliver Twist or Holden Caulfield.

Not reading the next sentence, I thought it was Jubal Hershaw, the author-avatar character but it was Michael Smith and damned if I could remember that. Vonnegut is simply wrong about that. No one remembers Michael Smith by name.

It wasn't a good book at all. If it were a first book by an unknown author, it would never have been published. It was just Heinlein trying to do what he thought was a book for adults rather than his usual young adult sci-fi. Aside from grok, there's nothing memorable. The sex cult stuff is just weird. Indeed if you use grok in a sentence today it marks you as a boomer or maybe a techie. I rarely see this book mentioned at all and never by the kidz.

Speaking of the kidz, Overly Sarcastic Productions does a good piece on it.


pyuser583onJuly 29, 2021

I haven’t got around to Stranger in a Strange Land - which is weird because that’s his most populist book.

I’m thinking of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. It had group marriages, but the marriage practices were ordained by custom and tradition. Not 20th century custom and tradition, but custom and tradition none the less.

TMWNNonJuly 29, 2021

Thanks for the profile; it's one I hadn't read before. I thought the wording of the discussion of Heinlein's previous marriage was hinting at his actual first marriage, which no one knew about until after long after his death, but it doesn't.

I grew up reading Heinlein. I've read it all; the short stories, the juveniles, the late-period novels, the early and late nonfiction essays, the recently published "lost" works. I consider him and Asimov among my formative influences. I disagree with the critics the article cites about the quality of his post-surgery work; Friday is fantastic and Job, the book the profile is putatively about, is also great. They're just different from the Scribner's juveniles. In turn I like the juveniles, but they don't stick with me as much as his short stories, or his late novels like Friday (which did cyberpunk two years earlier and better than Neuromancer did), Job, or (as weird as they are) The Cat Who Walks Through Walls/To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

I very much think, however, that Stranger in a Strange Land can only be read with vicarious embarrassment.

GeekyBearonJuly 29, 2021

> Heinlein wrote a book in favor of polyamory

Heinlein has explicitly said that Stranger in a Strange Land was not an effort to convince people to live in any particular way.

>“I was not giving answers. I was trying to shake the reader loose from some preconceptions and induce him to think for himself, along new and fresh lines. In consequence, each reader gets something different out of that book because he himself supplies the answers... It is an invitation to think -- not to believe.”


Advocating that people should be willing to reconsider their deeply held cultural beliefs was a major theme in Heinlein's later works.

jwoah12onMay 29, 2021

I happen to have just finished reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” for the first time a few weeks ago. In addition to having a super thought provoking premise, it coined the term “grok” which is so prevalent in tech circles. I never really questioned its origin, and I guess I assumed it was a borrowed word from Yiddish or something.

neartheplainonJuly 28, 2021

Heinlein wrote a book in favor of polyamory ("Stranger in a Strange Land") and was strongly opposed to religion and theology [0]. I doubt he'd be at home with today's evangelical Christians.

For what it's worth, Soviet intelligence did infiltrate large parts of American society during the Cold War [1]. This historical fact is often obscured by accounts of McCarthyism and the Red Scare. While McCarthy was a liar and an alcoholic with little to no knowledge of actual Soviet spy networks, the networks did in fact exist.

[0] https://www.azquotes.com/author/6509-Robert_A_Heinlein/tag/r...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_espionage_in_the_United...

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